We're Black and Blue All Over:
We've discussed on several occasions already the Green Bay Packers' challenge in keeping a slew of offensive skill players involved and contributing to the offense. Receiver James Jones' case was of particular interest this week after he had only one pass thrown his way in the Packers' 42-34 victory over the New Orleans Saints.
Speaking to Wisconsin reporters Wednesday, Jones said he had no issue with quarterback Aaron Rodgers' selection of targets. But Jones made clear he wasn't thrilled that he played 19 snaps, of which six were in a running formation.
Jones: "I don't care about the ball at all, but I truly, truly want to be in the game plan. Everybody plays this game because they want to play. I'm not selfish; I understand we've got a lot of weapons, so I'm not saying I want the ball every play. But I think I deserve to be on the field more than I was."
Jones isn't asking for the ball, but what he is requesting -- more playing time -- falls in the same realm of this issue. The Packers have plenty of deserving candidates to get on the field, something he knew when he re-signed with the team this summer. I'm guessing the Packers will involve him more in at least some weeks, but when you share the No. 3 receiver role on a talented and healthy offense, you're probably not going to play as much as you would like.
Continuing around the NFC North:
Pete Dougherty of the Green Bay Press-Gazette wonders if defensive end Mike Neal, who had knee surgery Tuesday, "will hold up well enough physically to be a core player for the next few years."
If Packers cornerback Tramon Williams (shoulder) can't play Sunday against the Carolina Panthers, Jarrett Bush would be the Packers' nickelback and Pat Lee would play in the dime, according to Tyler Dunne of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Sam Shields would start.
David Haugh of the Chicago Tribune on the death of Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher's mother: "From coaches to teammates, everybody at Halas Hall empathized with Urlacher. Even Sunday's opponent, Saints quarterback Drew Brees, whose mother died unexpectedly two years ago during training camp, sincerely expressed sympathy in a conference call. But nobody dared rule Urlacher out of Sunday's game because they know the Bears captain too well. Expect Urlacher to start at middle linebacker like usual even if the game will pose the most unusual of circumstances for him."
Although Bears right guard Lance Louis isn't expected to play Sunday against the Saints, he is expected to retain his starting job when he returns from an ankle injury, writes Sean Jensen of the Chicago Sun-Times.
Bears safety Chris Harris' hamstring injury could open the door for newcomer Brandon Meriweather, notes Jeff Dickerson of ESPNChicago.com.
Detroit Lions receiver Calvin Johnson on his ankle injury, via the Detroit Free Press: "Get the swelling out, and I'll be ready [for Sunday's game against the Kansas City Chiefs.] I'm walking fine, it's just you've got to get the swelling out before you can do anything. If you don't get that out, it'll just blow back up. Then I'll be down for even longer."
Bob Wojnowski of the Detroit News: "The Lions' evolution continues, and this week's shocking revelation is, we actually have to ask if they might take an opponent lightly."
The Lions thought they had a long touchdown set up for rookie Titus Young last Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Justin Rogers of Mlive.com explains.
Judd Zulgad of 1500ESPN.com thinks the Minnesota Vikings need a legitimate deep threat in the passing game.
The Vikings could end up on the hook for about $500 million to build their new stadium, Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton said, according to the Star Tribune.
Two public hearings have been set by the Ramsey County Charter Commission to discuss whether to hold a county referendum on the stadium tax in November 2012, according to Frederick Melo of the St. Paul Pioneer Press.